There are lessons to learn

When your loved ones grow old.

You just never know where they will come from.

The whole world knew what was going on in Ballard, Washington: Developers were building a giant shopping mall, but a house belonging to an elderly woman named Edith Macefield was in the way. They offered her a million dollars. She told them to take a hike.

The whole world knew that Barry Martin, the head of the construction project, was involved in the push to get her out of the house.

The whole world was wrong.

When Edith Wilson Macefield called Barry Martin to ask him to drive her to a hair appointment, it was the beginning of what is perhaps one of the most unlikely and inspiring friendships you will ever read about. And for the first time, the true story of what went on in that little house – and the incredible extent of Barry’s sacrifice — is revealed.

As the secrets of Edith’s past begin to surface –was she really once a spy in Nazi Germany? Did she really teach Mickey Rooney to dance? – Barry becomes more intrigued. And as Edith’s health begins to fail, their lives become more and more entwined. And soon, the lessons Barry learns from caring for Edith are put to the test — in a way he never expected.

The story of Barry and Edith is a tale of balance and compassion, of giving enough without giving too much, of helping our elderly loved ones through the tough times without taking away their dignity. In the end, it is a tale of grace; and one from which everyone with aging parents can take solace and strength. From Barry and Edith we have much to learn about love and letting go — and, just possibly, about seeing through fading light to find great joy.

Barry Martin has supervised construction projects all of his life, following in the footsteps of his father; and is a great lover of hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors, a love he inherited from his father as well. He is a native of Seattle, where he lives with his wife, two children, and new grandchild.

Philip Lerman is a writer and producer in Washington, DC. He is the former national editor of USA Today and former co-executive producer of America’s Most Wanted.